GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – My Next Door Neighbour Has Done A Very Good Thing.


As countries go into lockdown, markets plummet and unemployment begins to rise it’s easy to start feeling gloomy and helpless. The survival ‘trick’, if I can use that word, is to focus on the things in your life you CAN still control and by doing so you will help us all to get through this difficult time.

For example there was a note in my mailbox from my next door neighbour yesterday inviting me to join a phone , txt and whatsapp group she has set up for our street. If one of us develops a health problem we will have a network of nearby people we can contact to get help without having to leave the house. What a simple practical idea.

There’s a lot we can do to help ourselves and others simply by following the advice of our public health officials.

While there is much we do not know about the Covid -19 virus we do know that it spreads mainly from person -to -person contact so when you do go shopping for groceries, for example, try to keep a couple of metres away from other people.

Speaking of groceries – please do not panic buy. There is plenty of food and supplies for everyone and panic buying just causes logistics problems we really don’t need.. If some shelves are currently empty it’s because sudden demand has simply exceeded supply and the store is awaiting delivery from the warehouses. It’s not because the food and produce does not exist it’s because the truck is on its way.

TDB Recommends

One of the best things we can all do is take sensible precautions It seems you can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes . So every time you return home wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds., Or use a hand sanitiser.

Also know the symptoms of this disease and what to do.

Some people who contract Cov-19 may be unaware they are carrying the disease because they have either mild or no symptoms. So its a good idea to call your elderly relative , friend or neighbour to check on them rather than turn up in person until this outbreak is over.

While it usually takes between 2 to 14 days for symptoms such as fever, cough ,fatigue , headache, shortness of breath to appear after your exposure to Cov -19 it could take longer.

If you have any of these symptoms you should call your GP for advice rather than immediately go to the clinic where you might spread the disease to others in the waiting room .

Try to contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Again, immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

After using dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher. Disinfect high-touch surfaces in other areas of the home including phones, remote controls, counters, table tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but not your bedroom and bathroom.

We are not powerless . There is much we can do to help ourselves and others to get through this tough time.
Kia kaha

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. All great advice.
    Now dig up that silly lawn and grow vegetables.
    When you grow trees? Make sure they’re fruits and nuts trees. NOT derpy ornamental’s.
    Did you know? Gorilla Grafting is a thing. People sneak fruiting stock onto ornamental apple and cherry trees.
    And you can graft different apple strains onto a single ornamental apple tree?

    ” It’s not because the food and produce does not exist it’s because the truck is on its way.”

    That’s right. As we all know, trucks grow vegetables and the fleshes of the beasties for us to eat.
    They park up under the full moon of each month and at the dead of midnight a witch spirit comes and weaves air and dust to produce foods of all sorts within the confines of The Truck Beasts who then trundle the asphalt ribbons of highway to dispense sustenance to us.
    Not ‘farmers’. Silly us for thinking that.
    Farmers sell their produce at miserable, barely profitable prices while the real producer of foods, the super markets provide us with foods. I.e. Stack shelves and open up the doors and all for an exorbitant price, of course. I once saw a head of cauliflower for $8.00 at NW Balclutha. Garlic. A potent anti-viral and best eaten raw selling for $49 a kilo. Yep. I have photos.
    And yet…? Our farmers? Culturally excluded, demonised and sold into terminal debt but worse, ignored.
    No one wants to point to the beastly Fama dahlings. Ova thur, sloshing back the wines of the regions while eying up the dishwasher. Great way to wash the feet if you can cheat the door mechanism.
    Ol’ Sou East Otago aye?
    There’s a huge tract of flat and almost unimaginably fertile land to the East of Balclutha called ‘Inch Clutha’.
    It’s a heart shaped piece of dirt between the mouths of the Matau and Kawau branches of the Clutha River, our largest river by volume in AO/NZ and it’s currently being pissed on by thousands of cows.
    The inch Clutha delta used to be cultivated by Chinese market gardeners but right wing, red necks ran them off years ago.
    When the Trucks of Plenty AKA The mythical, magical mechanised Cornucopia’s don’t turn up with foods created by witch spirits ? Despite what ever sniffle we may have?
    That, is when things will get very, very real.
    Starvation plus disease = fun for the whole family.
    Farmers ? I, for one, think you’s are all fucking awesome.

  2. Garlic at $49 a kilo!

    Grow vegetables indeed and limes, grow plenty of limes.

    I once saw limes selling for $33 a kilo in a New World supermarket. After, understandably, shouting my disgust at such an exorbitant prices to nobody in particular but all in close proximity, I was somewhat condescendingly told by a person of importance in the produce department, who fortunately happened to be standing right behind me at the time, that the price was so high because they were out of season in New Zealand and had to be imported from the United States. Well there you go. A fair answer one might think. But he didn’t think really, he just rattled off a corporate line of bullshit expecting gullible customers to swallow it.

    Well, I’m not the type of customer that feels obliged to swallow anything least of all his corporate wank. So I said to him, in a tone that made all the nearby and now half interested folk tune right in, I said, ‘Well mate, if limes are out of season how come I have a huge bag of them that I picked from trees in Golden Bay not five days ago?” Several of the nearby folk were impressed enough to gasp audibly, one asking incredulously ‘What? You picked limes off a tree, yourself…this week?’ The produce dude looked abashed, mumbled something about an anomaly in growing areas and proceeded to scuttle off. I wasn’t having any of it. In a much louder voice I said ‘Yep, I picked about 5 kilos of limes, from trees, this week all by myself.’ Then, beginning to feel my oats, added for the uninitiated ‘They do grow on trees ya know…should be cheap as chips!’ I think quickly to myself best check on the price of potatoes. As the stormy clouds of civil unrest were building produce dude decides to slink off in a huff sticking to his corporate mantra tossing over his rapidly departing shoulder ‘If you want something that’s out of season it’s going to cost you more?’ Head, meet brick wall.

    New Zealand limes are selling, or were earlier in the week at Countdown, for $16 a kilo. I suggest we import them from Vietnam. Has to be cheaper than $16. Why Vietnam. Last month, whilst working in Abu Dhabi I walked into a small superette that was part of a hotel complex. You know the type, they have a small amount of almost everything including fruit and vegetables. It’s clientele are mainly hotel guests so prices are generally ramped up higher than a regular supermarket. Well, right there in front of me was a huge bin of lovely looking limes imported from…Vietnam. On checking the price and converting it into NZD I had a wee moment of incredulity. $3.00 New Zealand dollars per kilo. Just $3.00! What the fuck? How the hell can limes be imported all the way from Vietnam to the UAE and sell at that price. I check with the store manager. Nope, no special deals today, just the regular normal everyday price. A few rudimentary calculations tells me that it would be far cheaper to import limes to NZ from Vietnam than from the USA. NZ is 3000kms further from Vietnam than the UAE is, so one imagines shipping might be a little more expensive, but in that same vein, Los Angeles for instance is 1600km further still. How the hell could a price of $33.00 per kilo have been justified? That’s eleven times the price of imported limes in the UAE. Surely we could import Vietnamese limes here and sell them for less than $16.00 a kilo, couldn’t we? Oh, and garlic was selling in the same superette for around NZ$4.50 a kilo.

    I have a huge crop of elephant garlic that I grew in large pots last winter/spring and harvested back in January. It was real easy to grow. Put a clove in the soil about 5cm down, water & fertilize for six months or so then harvest. Really expensive to grow eh? When you look into it just a little bit you can begin to understand the astronomical pricing regime our duopoly of supermarket chains has adopted…profit before people.

    Get planting because something stinks in the fruit and vege department and it sure as hell isn’t cow shit.

  3. Have you given up on posting anything I write to this blog? My email may have changed but its still me?

Comments are closed.